Tricky Zoo Words to Challenge your Pre-schoolers

As the days warm up, what better family outing than a trip to the zoo? I remember going as a child and being amazed at seeing all the animals up close. As it’s normally quite pricey, I hadn’t taken the girls before. However, when our local zoo had a great offer on, we packed up a day bag and headed out.

The teacher in me finds learning in everyday. It’s probably one if the reason home schooling appeals to me. Clearly the zoo is a great place to find out about all different types of animals. Depending on your zoo’s current residents, you could see species from right across the globe.

As I’ve mentioned before, the girls, especially Jess, are obsessed with signs. The zoo is full of signs but for little ones, the language used is a bit above their level. So, I thought I’d share five zoo words to teach as you go around.

These are all pretty tricky words for preschooler but that doesn’t mean they should be avoided. If we use the correct vocabulary with children from a young age, they will be less daunted when they come across unfamiliar words and more likely to ask their meaning.

Five Zoo Words to Introduce:


The space the zoo has provided for each different animals. Some enclosures are cages, some have a barrier around. These are used to keep the animals in their own space and away from other animals and visitors. Sometimes you can walk through an enclosure such as an aviary.


The place an animal would naturally live. Maybe it’s a jungle or desert. Animal adapt to their natural habitat so for example a polar bear has thick fur to survive in its polar climate. The zoo will try its best to create an enclosure that matches an animal natural habitat.


An animal at serious risk of extinction. Animal like the rhinoceros are disappearing as humans hunt them for their horn. Other such as orang-utans risk dying out as their natural habitat is destroyed and they have no where left to live.

Conservation: To look after and protect animals and plants. As humans, we have a responsibility to look after our planet and all who live here.


Animal in zoos are kept enclosed and are not free to roam wild. They are kept in captivity mostly for conservation to protect them and help increase their numbers.

Little ones absorb language so much faster than we do as adults and you’ll be surprised how many of these words they’ll remember when they are used a few times. If you love the zoo, why not try out a few of these on your next visit. Can you think of any more zoo words to add to my list?

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Early zoo vocabulary to challenge toddlers and preschoolers. Try these tricky zoo words.

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